Lyndonville grads celebrate commencement, urged to keep persisting

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2021 at 10:39 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Abigail Garver moves her tassel to signify her graduation from Lyndonville Central School during commencement this evening at the school’s Stroyan Auditorium. Connor Bell is next to her and Hayden Arlington is behind her. They are among 59 graduates in Lyndonville’s Class of 2021.

Commencement is usually on the fourth Friday in June. Lyndonville was planning for an outdoor ceremony and set the date for today, the fourth Thursday, to allow for a rain date on Friday. But the state modified its Covid-19 guidelines for special events, which allowed the district to have the ceremony indoors.

Cameron Brownell is handed his diploma by Susan Hrovat, vice president of the Board of Education.

Lynlee Hong accepts her diploma during the ceremony.

Senior members of the chorus sing the National Anthem led by chorus director Jennifer Trupo. The students include from left: Alissa Klinetob, Brian Cunningham, Jacob Corser, Jason Grager and Erin Kiefer.

A larger group of seniors also sang “Seasons of Love” during the ceremony.

Alexander Barry gets some laughs while delivering the salutatory address. He praised the families, teachers and staff in the district for their support of the class, especially in the past school year, when there was always the threat of disruption, cancellation or quarantine from Covid-19.

“Thank you especially to the teachers in this crazy and stressful year with the Covid rules changing,” Barry said.

Lyndonville was able to offer in-person classes five days a week this school year. There were times when students were quarantined, and Barry said the Covid restrictions “put a damper on our ability to learn.”

But he said many of the students excelled with their schoolwork. Nearly half of the class is graduating with a GPA at 90 or higher.

A year ago, Lyndonville didn’t have an in-person graduation. The district instead recorded students receiving their diplomas individually and posted a video with a compilation of all the students. There was a vehicle parade around the community.

Not having an in-person graduation and then having the July Fourth celebration cancelled last year made Barry and his classmates value those events even more this year.

“I realize just how blessed we are to live in Lyndonville,” Barry said.

Nathan Dillenbeck delivers the valedictory address. He praised his classmates for pushing each other to excel in class, in sports and in the music program. That “friendly rivalry” resulted in a class with high distinction, Dillenbeck said.

The graduates will no doubt face difficult circumstances in the future. Dillenbeck urged them to keep hope, knowing that a difficult time will get better.

Jason Smith, the district superintendent, also addressed the class and shared a message about “The power of persistence.”

Smith first said this class of graduates had new terms to contend with during their senior year, such as hand hygiene, community spread, quarantine and contract tracing – all part of the Covid pandemic.

But the students adjusted, endured and finished off the year.

Smith shared the story about Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, a postman from southeastern France. During a 33-year career delivering mail, he collected pebbles on his route. From those he created a castle with mortar and limestone. “The Temple of Nature” is now a big tourist attraction that was made one stone at a time.

Smith gave each graduate a package of pebbles that are painted in Lyndonville Tiger orange. The gift from Smith includes the message, “Keep Persisting.”

The district also presented many scholarships as part of the ceremony. Dr. Aaron Slack, the high school principal, presents the David Pike Memorial Scholarship to Reagan London. Pike was a longtime physician’s assistant at Oak Orchard Health in Albion.

Darren Wilson, president of the Lyndonville Area Foundation, shared news that the Foundation passed $50,000 in scholarships in 2021 for the first time.

Jeff Gress, a retiring teacher at Lyndonville, congratulated students as they walked off the stage and headed down the aisle. The teacher with the most seniority is given the chance to be one of the first to congratulate the students. Gress shared many fist bumps with the students.

Dr. Elissa Smith, the elementary school principal, is in full academic regalia as part of the procession into the auditorium.

Zayda Moyle, one of the graduates, directs the band in playing the alma mater.

Lyndsey Snell moves over the tassel on her graduation cap during commencement. Dylan Jisa is next to her. Both are National Honor Society members.